mkhmarketing.wordpress.com
mkhmarketing.wordpress.com

Creating a must-click social post is on a par with excellent headline writing and there are certainly some elements of this art that carry across well to social media. But there’s more to great social content creation than just great headlines. More often than not it’s how a social post is written and presented that determines whether or not your followers will click through to your blog or website. And, for a content marketer, there’s nothing worse than creating great articles but having no one actually read them.

There are many schools of thought about what constitutes super-shareable content, and certain trends tend to come and go as users become overly familiar with seeing the same thing everywhere they go. Nevertheless, doing some research on how to thread a killer hook into your social posts is an extremely valuable skill for content marketers.

We’ll mainly concentrate on Twitter, as it only allows 140 characters, which means you have to get creative with how you use that space. But these tips easily translate to Facebook, Instagram and more. You can also combine some of the tricks below to make your social posts simply irresistible.

So, without further ado, here are nine time-honoured formulas for writing a must-click social post that will help get eyeballs on your articles.

1. The list

We used this one above. And it’s still one of the most clickable forms of headlines to use on social media because numbers help posts go viral. People just love lists. What’s more, it’s wise to use odd numbers whenever you can. Numbers that are not easily divisible tend to jar us – odd numbers are harder for our pattern-loving brains to comprehend, and therefore seeing them causes us to pause. Ultimately, however, a list-style post suggests that it won’t take the reader too long to digest.

2. Make a promise (and keep it)

Sharing insider knowledge, particularly mysterious, little known or ‘secret’ knowledge, about a particular topic is a surefire way to earn social click-throughs to your blog or website, as long as the content delivers the goods. Just be sure not to disappoint, otherwise your website’s reputation will start to dwindle and people may think twice about clicking on your social posts in the future.

‘Discover the secrets of [blank]’

‘Little known ways to [blank]’

3. Ask a question

Asking questions of your social media followers shows that you care about their opinion, and it can even help inform your content. However, don’t ask something that can easily be answered with ‘no’. Instead, try to ask something that is a little more open or leading. And if you get a huge response to something that you initially considered a throw-away question on social media, start writing the corresponding blog post right away.

‘How much money do I need to [blank]?’

‘What [blank] would you most like to see?’

4. Call to action

Telling your audience to click on a link, or to perform some kind of action, usually works wonders, so long as you sell it right. And research by Dan Zarella suggests that the most retweeted word is ‘you’. Also, putting time-pressure on your call to action will make people fear missing out on something if they don’t click right now.

‘Don’t miss out on your chance to [blank]’

‘Click here to download [blank] for a limited time’

5. Target your message

Get to know your audience and target your social post directly to them. If your message only applies to a certain part of your readership, for example, then be very clear about that from the start – it will prevent you from wasting the time of those who have no interest, while also making those who do fall into the category feel as if the content has been specifically written for them.

‘Recent graduates should [blank]’

‘Having a baby soon? Be sure to read [blank] first’

6. Infographics

World's Greatest Social Media Marketer
socialmediatoday.com

For some reason infographics do something magical to our brains — take a look at the one above from socialmediatoday.com. We just can’t get enough of them, it seems, with infographics getting 832 per cent more retweets than images and articles. So if your blog contains one of those highly digestible infographics, consider putting the word in your social posts, using the hashtag #infographic or embedding the infographic directly as an image.

7. Intrigue

Try to get your readers to do a virtual double-take. The use of stand-out phrasing, an unusual word or stating the reverse of something that’s seen as common knowledge can sometimes appeal to our thirst for information, or otherwise our need to disagree with the writer.

‘Here’s why Facebook won’t exist in five years’

‘15 reasons why Justin Bieber is actually cool’

8. Name-check an expert or celebrity

Barack Obama
Barack Obama by Marc Nozell

If your content is in anyway related to someone who is well known in their field, put their name front and centre in your social post, and perhaps find them on Twitter to link them to your post by using the @ symbol in front of their username. You never know, they may even retweet you, which should hopefully bring everyone and their mother over to your blog or website.

‘Find out what Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said to us about [blank]’

‘Catch @BarackObama talking about [blank]’

9. The how-to guide

Being genuinely helpful is not only going to win you traffic that will hopefully return again and again, but it will also endear you to thousands of readers who are looking to fix things in their life quickly. Tips, tricks and guides have made sites like Lifehacker immensely popular, for example, so it makes sense that a well-worded social post about how to do something will get tons of clicks. Try using phrases like ‘life-hack’, too, which suggests that your audience has been doing something wrong when there’s been a much easier way to do it all along.

‘How to life-hack your [blank]’

‘15 top tips for streamlining your [blank]’

For traditional marketers, social media has always been a difficult avenue to quantify, but recent research is likely to keep the naysayers quiet, at least for the foreseeable future.

twitter-793050_1280

Data compiled by KiteDesk found that 64 per cent of salespeople who exceeded their quotas in 2014 said that they had closed a deal as a “direct result of their social media efforts in the past year”. Furthermore, around 75 per cent of those who beat their quota for the year by 10 per cent or more said that they were ‘highly effective’ or ‘better than most’ at leveraging social media to sell.

When it comes to which networks were most fruitful in increasing sales, the answer depends to some extent on the product sold but the research certainly showed some surprising statistics in this area:

“For the first time ever, Twitter has dethroned LinkedIn as the most important social selling channel for B2B sales professionals.”

LinkedIn has always been the traditional outlet for business and professional connections, making it an obvious choice for anyone seeking to leverage their connections. But perhaps the ease with which people can connect to new networks and contacts on Twitter is proving more useful in modern sales environments.

Geoff Stuhf, speciality care, account manager from GE Healthcare, commented on the research:

“The healthcare industry is undertaking a major changeint he way that most facilities purchase products and in doing so, it has gotten even more challenging to reach anyone outside of the supply chain department.

“This, along with the onset of social media and social selling, has become the perfect storm for getting in touch with key decision makers, on their time, outside of the four walls of a hospital.”

SEARCH STREETThe word on Search Street is that Google’s been making some pretty major changes to its search algorithm and that social signals are now being given a lot more weight as ranking factors.

By social signals, we mean activity on social network pages that relates to your website. It could be a link from someone else’s Twitter account to a news item on your website; it could be a link to your latest blog post from your own company Facebook page; or someone reading that blog article and clicking the Facebook ‘like’ button at the bottom of the item.

But is this social activity making a difference to Google rankings? And if it does, are the social networks just a few additional links out of many passing PageRank?

We can start off by looking at what Google have said themselves. Back in May 2010, Google’s Matt Cutts said in a video that Google did not use social media as a ranking signal. But in December that year, Matt revealed that Twitter and Facebook were now beginning to be used by Google as ranking signals. [Rollover here to view]

He went on to say that Google also took into account the authority of the linking social media account, or reputation of the author. Which is totally in line with Google’s general link methodology. Continue reading

Look at the pace that the term ‘content marketing’ has moved into the vernacular of marketers, as measured by Google search volume. Although content marketing has been bandied about as a term for several years, its recent hike in popularity is not actually much of a surprise.

Google Trends Content Marketing

Google’s algorithm changes having been coming thick and fast over the last 12 months, and content-poor websites have been taking a real beating.

September 2012 saw the rollout of the latest Google Panda and Penguin updates, together with a sharp turning of the dial to tone down the influence of ‘direct-match’ domain names.  Google is working hard to shut out purveyors of thin content and rewarding owners of sites with useful, relevant and unique content.

You need to take action if:

  •  your website has less than 100 pages; or
  •  your website has a high number of pages populated with ‘thin content’ i.e. a paragraph or two at most of original content wrapped in a common template; or
  • there is very little content being added on a regular basis;
  • you want to improve the level of engagement you have with your audience

First – what do you want?

Before you take any action, take a moment to quantify your objectives. Have a think and discuss with colleagues what you really want to achieve with your marketing. And be specific, not just general business objectives like ‘increase sales’ or ‘increase market share’. For instance, ‘I want to increase the number of  visitors coming to our website from social media channels by 200% over the next 12 months’. Or, ‘in our next financial year, I want to reduce my pay-per-click spend by 40% and build total internet sales without increasing my online marketing budget’.

Action

Firstly, flesh out any thin pages you have with meatier content, whether that involves extending your product descriptions or providing more background information.

If you don’t have a company blog or a news section, get one or both started now and contribute to it every day.  If you are languishing in Google’s rankings for your prime keywords, you should see a steady rise begin in around a month or two. If you’re already up there, you’ll consolidate your position and begin to see second-tier key terms rise up the rankings.

Remember that some of your competitors will also be adding content and improving their web presence, so the pressure is on you to stay ahead of the pack, and boost your authority within your industry.

Here are the three broad strategies you need to follow to keep at the forefront:

Add more engaging, relevant and informative content
Add different types of content
Propagate your content

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Add more content

According to inbound marketing company Hubspot, businesses that add at least 20 articles a month to their website get five times more traffic than those businesses that write at most once a week.

businesses that blog get more visitor traffic

By including regular blog posts and industry news, you broadcast your industry knowledge and authority. It also demonstrates your thought leadership and, importantly, informs and educates your readers at the same time as giving them a platform to engage with you.

Gone are the days when we produce content specifically for the search engines. By that I mean liberally peppering every article with one or more top tier keywords (and never failing to include a keyword in the title).  Search engines have gotten smarter – they know when they are being shown a private dance and can detect keyword stuffing from several miles away.

This is not saying that we should lose focus on utilising keywords that specifically drive conversions.  These keywords, important in the buying process journey, need to be discovered and let out in a judicious manner.  In the course of writing truly relevant and informative articles, first and second tier keywords will naturally appear and help drive your site forwards in search and build up long-tail collateral.

Try to avoid creating content that is wholly company-centric. Too many marketers assume that their audience is going to be hooked on a stream of content centred around the company and its brands.  This approach simply doesn’t produce the level of interest needed to build a genuine rapport.

Of course it is easy for people to talk about their own company and its products or services. Conversely, it’s relatively difficult for marketers to come up with original content outside these areas, while still of particular interest to the audience. According to the Content Marketing Institute, around 41 percent of marketers say their leading content marketing problem is actually producing engaging content.

Your overall business objectives might be to increase enquiries, increase sales and profits. You also want to tell the brand story, build brand awareness, increase brand market share and establish thought leadership.

Provide content your audience wants

What I am saying is: focus on the customer and the information that he or she needs and is interested in. In the diagram above, anything outside the red circle is a no-go area.

There is nothing wrong in zooming in on your audience’s interests as they relate to your organisation. And without a brand in the picture, content is just a distant cry in the wilderness.  But if you restrict yourself to providing content that must, in a direct manner, relate to the brand and/or the business, you will struggle to grow your audience.

Just try moving your brand and business out of the story and see how much further the content will travel.  I guarantee you’ll want to do it more.
The interesting thing is that when you really do have something interesting to say to your audience about your brand or company, they’ll be much more attentive and responsive.

Add different types of content

So that’s a hint about where to start in terms of broadening the scope of the subject matter.  Adding more types of content is another way to broaden your reach, improve engagement ratios and boost SEO efforts.

Content types used in online marketing
The content type above is a visualisation, which in this case shows a selection of  content forms available. The positioning of content types here (based on our internal data) gives a general idea of the production ease and relative effectiveness of each.

In reality the effectiveness of a content form really depends how suited it is to your information.  Your choices are also going to shaped by resources that are available. Writing a book or even a white paper, whilst generally very effective, is going to some time and therefore is expensive.  At the other end of the spectrum you have social media updates and blog comments which are quick and cheap to create and, on their own,  have limited effectiveness.

There are some under-utilised types of content, like comics or cartoons, which can get good shares in social media,  stick around for a while and are good at picking up inbound links. Slideshare presentations are great at condensing longer Powerpoint presentations or displaying a set of slides in a visually appealing manner.

In terms of value for money, quality blogs and original news feed are a very powerful way to inform and engage with your audience, especially when used in conjunction with newsletters and social media. The ‘Freshness Update’ was coined to explain the way that Google rewards websites that are continually adding more content. A Google search guru even said that search results were like cookies that come out of the oven – ‘best when fresh’.

Infographics are in vogue of course, and are fantastic for allowing people to digest and make sense of larger amounts of data in a fun way. Different types of information are often best conveyed by using particular content forms.  So couple creativeness in broadening your topics with a bigger toolbox of content forms to really build your audience.

Propagate your content 

Once you have produced your content, is it just going to be plonked on the website, waiting to be discovered? Or will it be actively promoted and marketed?

Internal promotion
Before discussing ways to get your content linked to from third party sites, check to make sure the page upon which the content sits is well formatted, optimised for search and is featured around the site itself, including the home page.

Adding internal links from keywords or phrases in your regular content to relevant sections will help consolidate those sections and form good site architecture. Don’t be afraid of linking out to third party websites. In the old days, this would constitute ‘leaking of link juice’, but most SEO experts now agree that linking out helps rather than hinders online marketing efforts.

Make sure you have social sharing links prominently displayed above or below the content. Maybe both.  Check that there is an RSS feed set up so people can subscribe to your regular content through their browsers and in their personal news aggregators.

External promotion
Here’s what agency and brand marketers are doing to promote their content externally, according to Outbrain.

content distribution strategies

It’s likely that the better online marketers are utilising the majority of these.
No surprise to see that nearly everyone is using social media. If the content is deemed good enough by the audience, it will travel a long way.

Take a Facebook post we put up recently for a client, a sustainable forestry investment company.  It was just 50 words with an image about the world’s first ‘vertical forest’ – trees growing on every balcony of an apartment building in Milan, Italy.  But it’s interesting, relevant content for this audience, garnering many comments and hundreds of shares. There’s no mention of the brand anywhere, no calls to action.

Other times we will link to a news story or a blog post on the client’s website, where there is a chance of conversion.    Three quarters of online adults at least sometimes visit a corporate web site after learning of a news story through social media channels.  And seven out of ten will use corporate websites or online newsrooms as a source for sharing and posting information.  Social media is a very powerful platform to showcase your expertise using compelling content.

In your holistic approach, you will be co-ordinating your social media, PPC, SEO,  public relations and other online marketing activity so you’re not duplicating efforts and you are achieving a level of synergy.

Follow the bones of this content marketing über strategy, and you’ll leave your competitors straggling on the first lap.

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If you’d like to talk to me about how to achieve your online marketing objectives through cost-effective content strategies, drop me a line now! (Mention this blog post, How to build a killer content marketing strategy, and it will be directed to me).